“Why? Why would you want to do that to yourself?”
It was June of 2014, and the Congressional elections were soon to be had. As usual, the parties and their leadership were all scheming to figure out who they wanted to support for speaker. Who wanted to run? Would their party back them? What do we get in return? The usual questions…
Well, I was the outgoing speaker, and nobody had been elected for back to back terms in at least a couple years. So, it was assumed I wasn’t going to run. Being in the feds, I asked them if I could run again.
They thought I was crazy. Why would anyone want to subject themselves to moderating the bickering tribal spats that occur in Congress?
As it turned out, I did.
I enjoyed moderating, and I enjoyed keeping the peace. As it turned out, the month I had was an absolute travesty. It was the second month, iirc, that The Black Sheep Party was in Congress. It was a hard challenge, but I sought to be neutral and fair in all affairs. I tried to make the meta more welcoming to the sheep by essentially auto-censuring anyone ad-hom disparaging the BSP, because it was paralyzing.
As such, Congress saw fit to confirm me for a second term,I enjoyed my Speaker terms, even writing roleplaying articles about my “adventures” in moderating with a forum that was down. In those terms, and in my regular terms since then, I’ve tried to live up to a high standard for myself in Congress.
However, there was another aspect of the Speakership that I particularly enjoyed.
The eUS Constitution makes no mention of any court to decide disputes between members about the law, code, or Constitution. Instead, the Speaker has acted as the interpreter and arbiter of the rules. This can be tricky, as the Speaker is inherently an elected political position. Chances are, they will craft something to fit their agenda.
My first foray into this role was during that second term, in July of 2014, just before my Speakership was coming to a close and I would head back to classes. The item at hand was the “Unblacklisting” of Dennis McVicker. He requested his unblacklisting, and it was brought to a vote. It was a very close vote that brought into question the nature of “abstains.”
Should they be counted in the “Yes-No” math, affecting the outcome, or merely counted as present for quorum? If they counted toward the result, then DMV would lose and remain blacklisted. If not, he would win by 1 vote.
Now, I can’t remember off the top of my head why DMV was blacklisted. Also Congress records are inaccessible right now. However, I do remember this: I did NOT want DMV to be “unblacklisted.” However, I made the ruling that abstains were only counted as present. DMV won his unblacklisting. People in my party weren’t really happy with me, but they respected my decision, because I made it in the spirit of the law with voting mechanics in mind.
Several days ago, I was presented with a numerous amount of constitutional questions related to shadow congress.
1. AMP was in the 5th position on election day. Are they entitled to WTP’s seats, as a T5 party?
2. CG wants Oblige on the SFP ballot. Can he put 6th party members on the ballot? Even if they weren’t in his party on the 23-24th?
3. CG wants to give WO a seat on the SFP ballot. Can a non-citizen be in Shadow Congress?
These were all political questions, and somebody was going to get burned either way. This doesn’t affect one person’s status, but potentially a whole party.
So, I basically spent the whole day researching #2 and #3, while #1 came easier upon reading old threads. Yet, I found I could do several things. I could get very political and craft something that would be fun for me to witness and observe, or I could be fair, impartial, and make the most sound judgement.
So, what did I do? I wrote up both opinions. At this point, we all know what I submitted to Congress.
For your entertainment, here’s “Opinion One: In Favor” in which i would have allowed both 6th party and Non-Citizen candidates into Congress. I threw it at a couple of people for fun, and they were both terrified and impressed by it. However, I knew I couldn’t rule that way. It was purely political and just what I would’ve wanted to see play out for my amusement.
Instead, I went with Ruling 2: Mixed which seated Oblige and future T6 party candidates, but not non-citizens. This seemed to me to be the most logical and impartial of rulings. Nobody objected, and life proceeded as usual.
Concerning the seating of the AMP, was the following: “I like to match in-game mechanics as much as possible. I don’t believe the amendment was written to block any (Non-PTO) party that makes its T-5 entrance during a “Shadow” session. Rather, our political system rarely sees such changes, so it was overlooked. It happens when we’re building meta-law on a forum. We don’t go through every possible scenario and codify it.
My ruling is that the AMP, as the 5th party, is entitled to the seats held by the former 5th party. If you’d like to see them disallowed, and denied representation, feel free to amend the constitution.”
This was based on the same discussions that informed the ruling that seated Oblige and The Mike. Congress intended to match the game as much as possible, and how we ran elections in game. Simply because it wasn’t specifically codified, the intent was not to leave them out if they sprung into 5th place.
I believed the rulings to be as fair and impartial as could be. Nobody really raised their voice, or officially challenged it. Some people grumbled at me in private for letting Oblige in.
Things after that were running awfully smoothly. A regular Speaker nomination and vote were at hand, and I went out for most of the day. Did some dog sitting, saw the fam, and went out for food and drinks with my friend in the afternoon/evening. Periodically, I updated the vote tally after refreshing the page on mobile. I had been updating after time, as I was interested in seeing how it played out. Extending a vote was not out of the question, and had been done before.
So, I finally arrive home, around 11:30pm. I go to my computer and find several messages from CG asking me to close the vote because it was close and getting on towards 24 hours. CG and I had been talking, and we’d had some fun together in Congress during the past month. However, I soon learned why he wanted the vote closed.
Wild Owl decided to overturn my ruling, unseat the AMP Congressmen, and replace them with WTP congressmen. This essentially set off some chaos in Congress. Voices were raised by WTP members in support, and several experienced congressmen objected. WO also stated that “SFP's list will remain the same. It was adjudicated by the former SoH, and accepted by the entire Congress. I have no wish to change that particular ruling.”
Despite the fact that the “former SoH” adjudicated both rulings, and it was accepted by the entire Congress, he altered one of the rulings anyways. He took what I tried to make impartial and game mechanical, and made it politically motivated and unfitting of game mechanics. After all, Congressmen cannot be unseated, once elected, unless they resign.
So, I did something politically motivated in kind. I exercised my right to extend the vote, which I had already unofficially extended. To screw with WO, I made it 72 hours. Was this to ensure his loss? Not really. Although I’d have to check, he wins in the case of a tie, and I doubt he was going to lose outright. He’s got a lot of pull. Rather, it was an attempt to let congress pass a fix so that Congressmen could not be unseated unilaterally by the Speaker, as it had terrible implications. AS I told Oblige, I don’t care who’s in Congress. I haven’t been a congressman in 7 months, and I just gave him and another WTP member access, when it could be argued they weren’t entitled to it.
However, the implications of unseating were too vast for me to ignore. A party is voting against me? UNSEATED. Extreme, but possible. The Speaker holds mod powers on the board, after all.
However, this obviously set off more of a crisis, as a Speaker vote has been rarely extended with quorum since it began 8 years ago (37th Congress, but the Librarians notified me there are more). There were references in other elections to support it, but it was a “meh” sort of precedence. Rare, but not unheard of. So this brought out the total nasty in Congress. Oblige stirred impeachment talk to get the WTP seated, people fumed at each other, accusations were made, and censures were proposed.
In the end, I had stooped below the high standards I set in order to do this, and poured fuel on a fire. I can admit that. It’s not my finest decision or my finest hour. Rather, it was done to keep future Speakers from running rampant. I could have simply let a Vote of No Confidence proceed, but then the Speaker would have just patronized 3-5 congressmen, and the flip-flopping rulings and VoNC proposals could have continued without end.
So, here’s what I’m doing:
1. PigInZen issued Congressional Recess and frozen the boards, as things were getting out of hand. Congress will be unfrozen on July 3rd at 8:30pm.
2.The Speaker Vote is concluded. All congressmen got their say, and the vote ended in favor of WO. When Congress unfreezes, WO will be Speaker, and his team will be given moderation powers.
3. I am proposing that instead of following rulings, the letter, or the spirit of the law, that WildOwl seats BOTH the AMP and the WTP. While not technically in the Constitution, “Congress may organize itself as it sees fit.” It would allow everyone to be seated while a fix is made. Congress could also pass a law to admit them.
4. I’ve said before that my favorite part of SoH duties is roleplaying as a judge. Doing the research and writing is very fun, and appeals to the inner lawyer that I know my parents want me to be. However, SoH is one political appointee. I’ve written guidelines that Congress could take up for a very narrow “Constitutional” court to prevent abuse. Last time this was attempted was 10-ish years ago. Perhaps it’s time to try again, to promote less political division.
PigInZen is right. We do not need to be seeking political revenge. We need to stop trying to get even with each other. We need to seek our common man, and commit ourselves to a different course. The actions I took in the past 24 hours did not help us chart that better course.
For that, I apologize. I’m only
Just like when I tried to make the BSP feel more “at home” in the meta, so too do we need to stop our bickering and come together. Find some sort of unity, with our fellow man, but also seek to root out those who use the specter of “unity” for their own personal gain.
I’ll try my best to meet my standards. Can this nation raise its standards? Can we be neighborly?
Can we do better?